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2021 Opponent Preview: Maryland Terrapins

The first game of the 2021 season features an old rival

Maryland v West Virginia Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Series Record: West Virginia leads 28-22-2

Last Meeting: September 26, 2015 - WVU 45, Maryland 6

Opponent Record 2020: 2-3. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Ten cancelled their 2020 football season on August 11, 2020. A month later the Big Ten resumed football activities and announced a nine-game schedule. The Terrapins, because of cancellations related to COVID-19 outbreaks, only played five of their nine scheduled contests. The Terrapins lost to Northwestern, Indiana and Rutgers but did beat Minnesota and Penn State.

2021 Outlook

On offense, the Terrapins are going to rely on Tua Tagovailoa’s brother Taulia (no relation to the Dark Knight Rises character played by Marion Cotillard) to lead the way. Taulia transfered from the Alabama Crimson Tide and landed at Maryland last year. In four games last season, Tagovailoa threw for over 1,000 yards, leading the Terrapins to rely on a pass-heavy offense. Newly hired offensive coordinator Dan Enos is expected to also help increase the passing offense for the Terrapins.

While Maryland may have their quarterback of the future, who he is throwing to is a completely different story. The Terrapins do return Dontay Demus who caught 24 passes and 4 touchdowns in only 5 games last season but after him, the receiving corp is a bit limited. Rakim Jarret looks to be the No. 2 receiver and Jarret was a former five-star recruit. Jeshaun Jones and Brian Cobbs round out the top 4 and after those four, the returning production is not there.

The offensive line is held together by junior Jaelyn Duncan, who was named to the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big Ten and was a 2020 All-Big Ten selection as well. The big left tackle will anchor the offensive line. He’ll be joined by Spencer Anderson and Johari Branch, both who started all five games last season.

The Terps running backs are all up in the air and no one has separated themselves. (that’s why there isn’t much to talk about with them!)

On defense the Terps will rely on their defensive line to help keep opponents grounded. Lead by junior Mosiah Nasili-Kite, who led the Big Ten with 0.8 sacks per game last season is a monster on the line and will be a force in 2021. He’ll be joined by senior Ami Finau, who had 2 sacks in five games last season. Behind those two are a group of talented freshmen and sophomores but ones who haven’t been battle tested.

If the defensive line is good, the Terrapins secondary might be great. The pass defense last season only allowed 6 touchdowns through the air all season and held teams to 200 yards per game and a 56% completion percentage. A name fans might remember is Osita Smith, who originally signed with the Mountaineers in 2018 before transferring after the 2019 season. Smith will push an already talented group of safeties and cornerbacks that proved to be very stingy last season.

Game Outlook

Currently ESPN has the Mountaineers as a 3-point favorite and their Football Power Index gives the Mountaineers a 57.8% chance of winning the game. The game has always been a measuring stick for the two programs and this year should be no different. If the Mountaineers can start the 2021 season with a win over their rival, the outlook for the season looks much brighter than the past two seasons.